anxiety and adhdAnxiety and ADHD are two common issues that many people struggle with.

Both make it difficult to navigate our modern world.

For example, with ADHD, it can be hard to sit still in class or stay in front of your desk at work. Or, when you suffer from anxiety, there are many triggers that you must face daily.

Sometimes it’s even possible to have both conditions at the same time.

Knowing the difference between ADHD and anxiety is important, especially if you or someone you know is experiencing behaviors you can’t explain. Otherwise, you could be getting treatment for the wrong condition.


Then consider these four tips for telling the difference between anxiety and ADHD.

1. Physical Symptoms of Anxiety and ADHD

A big difference between anxiety and ADHD are the physical symptoms.

With anxiety, these can include:

  • Hyperventilating
  • Shaky hands or trembling
  • Sweating
  • A faster heartbeat
  • Stomachaches

However, people who have ADHD will experience quite different symptoms.

For instance, one includes having difficulty sitting still for long periods of time. They may have all of this nervous energy that they just can’t contain. Often what helps is using a fidgeting device to give them something to do with their hands.

Another symptom is that people with ADHD, especially children, may have poor self-control and are impulsive. They blurt out whatever is on their minds or do things spontaneously.

2. Focus and Distractibility

Another difference between anxiety and ADHD is their connection with focus and distractibility.

For example, someone who is anxious generally has all of their attention on whatever it is that’s triggering their anxiety. In worst-case scenarios, this excludes pretty much everything else around them. In these instances, nothing will turn them away from the trigger.

On the other hand, people who have ADHD are often known for being distracted and lacking the ability to pay attention—with the exception of when something interests them greatly. In these instances, they are not locked-in by fear. Rather, they are getting fulfillment and pleasure out of whatever draws their interest.

3. Creativity

If you are feeling anxious, it’s very hard to be in a creative mindset. How can you unleash your creative powers when you’re gripped by worries or fear? Rather, you feel stressed from whatever it is that’s causing you anxiety. In short, you’re in crisis mode.

However, those who have ADHD are not held back creatively by their condition. Quite to the contrary, ADHD can actually be an asset to unlock creative potential. In fact, research has shown that people with ADHD score higher on tests that measure creativity.

4. ADHD Can Enrich Your Life, Anxiety Doesn’t

Both  anxiety and ADHD can harm your relationships. People who have ADHD often find ways to use their condition to their advantage.

For instance, they pursue jobs or hobbies that require them to be present in the moment and not be distracted. Or they take advantage of not being able to sit still and find outlets for that energy. Some famous people known to have ADHD include Michael Phelps, Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, and Walt Disney.

On the other hand, anxiety doesn’t necessarily enrich your life. Of course, there are many people who have anxiety. Yet, anxiety doesn’t really help make your life more enjoyable. Although, it is certainly possible to not let anxiety define your life.

Getting Help for Anxiety or ADHD

Although anxiety and ADHD are common in our society, they are not always well understood at all. If you are struggling to determine whether you have anxiety or ADHD, it’s time to get professional help. There are certain types of  therapy that will be helpful.

We are fortunate to live in time when there a effective non drug treatments for both ADHD and anxiety.

By participating in counseling, you and a therapist can work together to understand what you’re experiencing. Your therapist will be able to pick up on clues that you may have missed which can help determine whether you have anxiety or ADHD. That way you can get a treatment plan that is appropriate for the right condition.

If you would like to know more about the difference between ADHD and anxiety, I’d be happy to provide the support you need either through ADHD counseling or anxiety treatment.